As a business based in Europe, we're subject to a lot of rules as to what we can and can't claim when marketing our electrolyte supplements.
The UK's "Code of Non-broadcast Advertising" states that "Only nutrition claims listed in the updated Annex of the EU Regulation may be used in marketing communications."
As Andy pointed out so well in his in-depth article on why athletes suffer from cramp, although there’s a decent amount of circumstantial weight (case studies, observational data, anecdote and expert opinion - what scientists call ‘level 4 and 5 evidence’) behind the theory that sodium depletion is a major cause of exercise-related muscle cramp, it lacks the more “concrete proof” of data from large scale randomised controlled trials that is (rightly) considered necessary by proponents of evidence-based practice for it to be widely accepted as ‘fact’.
This is in part because the sort of electrolyte/fluid imbalances that occur over the long periods of sweating common in endurance sports are harder to replicate at scale in the sort of controlled lab conditions required for such "concrete" studies (as opposed to other theories, which are more suited to such research).
- Do fluid / electrolyte disturbances cause cramp?
- Mike, a cyclist from Alberta
- George, an ultra-runner from London
- Philip, a cyclist from New Orleans
- Scott, a tennis player from San Antonio
- Sue, a triathlete from Loughborough
- Jay, a MTB rider from Lancing
- Howard, ultra-runner from Rochdale
- Mark, a cyclist from Colchester
- Stanley, a handball player from Evergreen, Colorado
- Lynne, a cyclist from Long Beach, California
- Eh Poh, a triathlete from Singapore
- Caz, an ultra-runner from Ormskirk
- Mark, a cyclist from Christchurch, New Zealand
- Suzzette, a triathlete from San Franciso
- Tony, a triathlete from Blackburn
- Nick, an ultra-runner from Brighton
- Scotty, a triathlete from Wigan
- Lisa, a triathlete from Bedford
- Further reading
Do fluid / electrolyte disturbances cause cramp?
Whatever the reasons, it still hasn't been conclusively proven that significant disturbances in fluid or electrolyte balance causes leads to cramp and so we try to be very careful about the claims we make about our stronger electrolyte drinks.
So, when frustrated athletes who've come across us when researching cramp and hydration online ask us for links to papers proving that our products will help, we try to explain this and, along with sharing the case studies and observational research summarised in Andy's blog, we point them towards the growing mass of anecdotal evidence available, some of which comes directly from people trying Precision Fuel & Hydration electrolytes, and let them make up their own minds.
Countless athletes from all around the world - and all levels of performance - contact us (on an almost daily basis) to tell us that personalising their hydration strategy and following a more aggressive sodium supplementation strategy has helped them avoid - or at least reduce/alleviate - their problems with cramp.
For the last few years we've also conducted an annual survey on muscle cramp where we ask athletes about their experiences and have always found the data encouraging.
If you're trying to make up your mind about whether to give some stronger electrolyte supplements a try before, during and after exercise that tends to result in cramp then you can read some of these anecdotes in the review sections of our product pages (e.g. our low-cal 1,500mg/l effervescent tabs), our elite athlete testimonial page and in the regular athlete stories we post on our blog, such as this one.
And, if it helps, I've pulled 18 interesting athlete stories out of my inbox or the above pages…
Mike, a cyclist from Alberta
"About 9 months ago I decided to do the Etape du Tour with my brother. I started training more seriously and, for the first time in my life, in a much more structured way.
To get ready, I trained around 6 to 8 hrs per week. Where I live in Canada there is typically snow in the ground from November to April, so I did a lot of indoor trainer sessions. Hated it at first but perversely I now really enjoy doing virtual rides inside on my trainer. It's a great way to get really specific intensity sessions in, plus it's time efficient.
My cramp issues were a bit strange. I'd always suffer from cramp in my right calf at the very start of events as soon as I tried to go hard. I'd have to slow down drink loads and take a few gels. Typically it would get better but I could always feel it was close to coming back. Then I'd also have issues around 3 hours into a hard event, again in my calves, but in both of them.
I'd have to take it easy to start which was a pain as I'd often lose my group or be too worried about cramp to really enjoy myself. I know the issue was that I was starting dehydrated, so would always drink lots the night before but that didn't seem to help.
Another factor is I sweat a lot. I'd tried other hydration products but with no real success.
The first thing that struck me as different about your product was you talked about a hydration strategy. Crazy when I think about it, but before I had pacing strategies, nutrition strategies but never a strategy for what was my Achilles Heel (or Achilles Calf in my case!).
The other thing that resonated was you addressed the fact that some people sweat more than others (I sweat a lot) and for the first time I learned that some people's sweat is saltier than others. I know from the sting in my eyes that mine is pretty salty. All these factors really caught my attention.
I've been consulting a coach to help with training and he sent me a link to one of your articles. It was only a couple of weeks before the Etape, so I was nervous about trying a new product and so experimented a bit in advance just to make sure there was no negative reaction, no issues.
For the Etape I followed exactly the pre-event strategy you sent me. I took one PH 1500 the night before, straight after dinner. I didn't try and drink loads of plain water as I used to, so less pee stops during the night.
In the morning, I took one PH 1000 about 1 hour before starting. I had no idea if it would help my issue with early cramps, but it was a huge relief when I was able to push hard initially with no issues at all. A first, which really helped me relax and boosted my confidence.
The Etape was brutally hot, well over 30 degress C (my garmin showed a max of 39), with no shade on the majority of the south facing climbs. The black bitumen of the roads felt like an oven and you could see the white salt stains on so many jerseys, so hydrating was a big challenge.
During the ride I took PH 1000 sachets and used them in 500ml bottles. I managed to stick to my plan of drinking one roughly every 2 hours. I also drank 500ml of another brand's energy drink (because I really like the flavour), so one 500ml bottle of liquids per hour. I took in 3 SweatSalt capsules as well for when I ran out of the sachets, I stuck them under my cycling glove taking one per hour for last three hours.
In the end I was on the road for 10.5 hours in really hot conditions and never had any cramp issues. A tough day but one I could relax and enjoy.
Next up for me is some fun unstructured outdoor rides, hopefully a great ski season and the slowly germinating idea that the Marmotte before I'm 50 might not be so crazy after all…”
George, an ultra-runner from London
I'm working with an elite-level group of endurance athletes competing in events from 2-8 hours long, often with 3 events in 3 days.
All of us have, at some point, suffered from serious issues with cramp.
The classic or even "off the shelf" remedies such as salty foods or normal hydration tablets (from major brands) were next to useless.
I personally found that I would religiously experience a slow-down and fatigue phase before cramping kicked in at the 3-4 hour mark. In some events, the cramping came close to causing me to fail.
I looked around for a solution and came across Precision Fuel & Hydration.
The effect was immediate. Since starting to use the 1500 tablets, I've not had a single episode of cramp. My body's ability to sustain a high level of aerobic exercise over a prolonged period has been massively supplemented.
In a number of cases, I believe that Precision Fuel & Hydration has been the deciding factor.
One lesson I have learnt in the endurance field is when it comes to hydration and nutrition is that, contrary to my prior beliefs, taste REALLY matters. I just don't eat or drink things that I don't like. I'm already expending a huge amount of mental fortitude in keeping moving, so forcing down nasty food or drink that I've been going through for the last 6 hours just doesn't work for me.
Incidentally, I can't stand the typical sweet, fruity flavoured salt tablets. The electrolytes have a unique but extremely palatable taste to it. I decided the first time I used it that it tasted like an elixir. The salt isn't entirely masked but I think that this is important to satisfy the body's desperation for more salt.
Everyone I work with likes the flavour. In summary, if you are looking for a low-effort, simple solution to reduce muscle fatigue and cramping then I can't recommend Precision Fuel & Hydration more.”
Philip, a cyclist from New Orleans
“I am a sixty-two year old cyclist who started cycling on a regular basis about a two years ago. Last April I did some rides in the mountains of Alabama and experienced severe leg cramps in both of my thighs.
I started doing some research on hydration products and came across Precision Fuel & Hydration last summer. In September of last year, I rode the mountains in North Carolina and used your products (the 1000 and 1500 packets, before and during my rides) and did not experience any leg cramping.
More recently, I have did some sixty mile rides in New Orleans, which is extremely flat, and did not experience any leg cramping although at the conclusion of my rides I did feel somewhat exhausted and lethargic!
I would like to take the Advanced Sweat Test to see if my pre-ride hydration and riding hydration plans need to be altered.”
Scott, a tennis player from San Antonio
“The real battle was my heavy, heavy sweating during tennis tournament. It doesn’t bring me down in triathlons because I control the pace but in a tennis tournament (playing 2x a day for up to 3 consecutive days) I wasn't able to maintain my hydration status or recover for the next day.
I’ve tried everything under the sun with the same results, bottoming out. My HB med was making it worse and limiting my salt consumption, so it was an extreme battle and I was at a point of giving up on tennis.
But, I’m so glad to say I just finished a tournament where I played 5 matches in 3 days without cramping out, getting violently sick or needing an IV at the hospital! So glad y’all came around and worked some magic for an old guy (49) who does not want to quite having sports fun!
Thank you for the hard work and I’ll be buying more product from now on!”
Sue, a triathlete from Loughborough
“I do middle and long distance triathlons and many of my races have been ruined by cramp at the end of the bike section and start of the run.
I tried Precision Fuel & Hydration for the first time yesterday for a 70.3. I had never tried pre-hydrating before a race. I used PH 1500 as advised at my Advanced Sweat Test appointment. The race went really well and, despite the heat, I didn’t get any cramp, not even a twinge. Really recommend trying this if you cramp up when racing.”
Jay, a MTB rider from Lancing
“I started using Precision Fuel & Hydration back in 2016 at a mountain bike race in Germany. Up until this point I would get cramp in my inner thigh area about 6 hours in.
In 2016 I had no cramp problems, no stomach stress issues. Also being a person who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, a drink that’s easy on my stomach is very important and hard to find.
Precision Fuel & Hydration worked really well, before, during and after my 4th place finish. I would highly recommend their product to anyone.”
Howard, ultra-runner from Rochdale
“I first heard of Precision Fuel & Hydration in Sep/Oct 2018. All my previous races where plagued with major cramp issues.
My knowledge on hydration was quite poor. I took the Online Sweat Test and was recommended PH 1500 and PH 1000 and since using these products (tweaking here and tweaking there), I’ve managed to sort the cramps out!
If you suffer with bad cramps and it’s ruining all your races, I can’t recommend these products enough. Game changers for me.
I take one the evening before and in the morning before races (or heavy workouts) and also post races. Love the emails I receive too, that have more hydration knowledge to keep me updated and in the know.
Mark, a cyclist from Colchester
“When riding in sportives and long distance rides I found I was cramping around the 75 mile mark continuously and - after reading a cycling magazine review - decided to try out Precision Fuel & Hydration. (I have tried a number of different products without success).
I have found that Precision Fuel & Hydration has cut the cramping on the rides as well as at night after training. I knew I was sweating heavily but didn’t realise the amount of salt I was losing and have noticed a big difference since using Precision Fuel & Hydration. Although still experimenting with the products I have also seen an improvement in my general performance on rides.”
Stanley, a handball player from Evergreen, Colorado
I was having trouble with leg cramps on the the final days of 2-3 day, 4-wall handball tournaments. I came across the Precision Fuel & Hydration website while doing some research about solutions for leg cramps.
I have always been a heavy sweater and it was obvious that I was not replenishing my electrolytes during these tournaments. The results were leg cramps and a reduced ability to compete at my highest level.
I reviewed your hydration advice and decided to give the PH 1500 and PH 1000 electrolyte mixes a try. I am happy to say that I have not experienced any cramps after multi-day tournaments since I have been using the Precision Fuel & Hydration electrolyte products.
I am typically drinking one full bottle of PH 1500 before my matches. I follow it up with at least one to three PH 1000 packets during the match. This regimen has worked for me. I have also given some of the product to some female competitors and it has helped them eliminate their muscle cramps.”
Lynne, a cyclist from Long Beach, California
“Despite being a lifelong athlete and higher than average sweater, I never gave much thought to the amount of salt I was sweating out until I started participating in longer endurance cycling events in the last two years.
I was finding that after about 70 miles my calves, thighs and sometimes even my hands would cramp and I knew the “bonk” was soon to follow.
Thankfully, Precision Fuel & Hydration was one of the websites that popped up on Google during my search. I took their Online Sweat Test and a short time later received a detailed hydration plan for my level of sweating and salt loss.
I ordered the sample box, which arrived about a week later and started experimenting with different mixtures. I confess to being a little concerned starting with the highest amount (1500mg/l) right away, so I used the 1000mg/l mix and took the 250mg tablets with me on my ride.
After more training rides and continued experiments, I now use the recommended amounts suggested in the original hydration plan and have had tremendous success….meaning no cramps during or after my rides.
Precision Fuel & Hydration’s website is very informative and the customer service and follow up support is excellent. I highly recommend Precision Fuel & Hydration to any athlete who suffers from cramping and wants to find a solution to improved performance.”
Eh Poh, a triathlete from Singapore
"PH 1500 is a clear winner for me having spent years trying different brands of nutrition.
It accompanied me on my first full Ironman race - which I survived, amazingly, with zero cramps.
Today it’s a must have on my long training rides and runs and is also heavily used by my tri group.
I pop one into my 750ml bottle; it’s easy on the stomach and easy to carry to races. I have used this for over a year now and have to say I am fully reliant on it working wonders now!”
Caz, an ultra-runner from Ormskirk
“I had been really struggling with serious cramps in my trail marathons, to the point of doubting if I could complete a marathon without cramping.
I read an article in Trail Running magazine about you and thought it sounded to good to be true. After completing the online test I was advised to use PH 1500 before events and PH 1000 during.
This weekend I completed the Lakeland Trails Coniston Marathon (on a very hot day) with no cramping, this is a major breakthrough for me.
Last year I nearly DNF'd in 2 trail marathons with the pain of cramp.
Not only does the product work, it tastes great (even at 5.30 am for the PH 1500!) and I have no Gi issues during. The support info really ties in giving great advice.
As a middle of the pack runner trying my best in the sport I love, I feel I now have access to elite level information and products.
Keep up the amazing work... THANK YOU."
Mark, a cyclist from Christchurch, New Zealand
“I have been using the Precision Fuel & Hydration 1500s and 1000s now for a couple of months and really notice how much better I feel after a hard ride.
I used to always feel completely drained and (by my urine colour) I was obviously getting very dehydrated. No more, I preload with a 1500 and use 1000 during and after if needed.
Haven’t had any cramps since starting either.
I do find that the 1500 is a little harsh on an empty stomach, so recommend it with or after a little food.”
Suzzette, a triathlete from San Franciso
“Precision Fuel & Hydration is definitely part of my race plan. I’m doing my first Ironman on May 12 and have been training with it since my sweat test. It’s been going great and I’m feeling confident using the product.
I think what has been key is preloading before big training sessions (the night before and in the morning). Especially when I have a big swim, I tend to cramp in the water.
I’ve been worried about the swim since you can’t drink during the swim, which will take me about 1.5 hours. So far it’s been great and no hint of cramps which allows me to swim strong the entire time!
On the bike it has been great and I like the taste. It’s not too sweet, so I don’t get sick of it after so many hours. I think since my body is getting what it needs on the bike, it sets me up for a good run.
On the run, I mainly drink water and do a salt lick. So haven’t used Precision Fuel & Hydration on the run yet. But, again I think the bike hydration really helps my run. Maybe next race I’ll start using the salt pills. I’ll have to give them a try.
Thanks so much for the product. I’m so happy I’ve started using it! The sweat test was so informative that it really changed my hydration plan.”
Tony, a triathlete from Blackburn
Some 6 years ago, at the age of 55, I started competing in triathlons.
For the first 3 seasons I suffered horrendous cramps in all 3 disciplines.
A couple of years back I went to the Manchester Triathlon Show where I met Precision Fuel & Hydration. Using the low calorie effervescent tablets, I noticed an almost immediate reduction in - and severity of - the cramps.
I now don't train or compete without it. It's absolutely central to my hydration plan.”
Nick, an ultra-runner from Brighton
"I got cramp in the Three Forts Marathon and the Luna-tic this year. Three forts was probably about 3-4 miles from the end, but Luna-tic was just over 25k in (I was running hard).
On both of these runs I got saved by a runner or walker who happened to have salted cashew nuts on them. I ate a handful and there was an instant recovery. So I figured it was definitely salt depletion that was the problem.
I have never done pre-run stretching, nor post running stretching (mainly because I usually run half marathons in training so don't have the time), but my body never seems to have suffered from not stretching. I do have a bit of a 1970s, 'no nonsense' attitude to running, but the cramps were hard. I have just started Pilates though to help build up my leg strength.
So on this race I took salted cashew nuts with me and your SweatSalt capsules (and the hydration tabs to mix into my water). I didn’t even need to reach for the cashew nuts in the Downlink Ultra, so I figured the tablets did what they said they would do and it has seemed to have solved the problem.
I am a sceptic at the best of times and your company has proved me wrong!"
Scotty, a triathlete from Wigan
“When training for an Ironman my usual week would consist of between 12-14 hours of training, peaking at ~22 hours.
I used to suffer with cramp in my calves on the bike a lot, I really struggled in the Manchester Marathon last year and pulled up at the 21 mile mark.
To stop cramping I have tried calf socks, a bigger salt intake in my day-to-day diet and electrolyte drinks.
I heard about Precision Fuel & Hydration in 220 Triathlon magazine and then I met you at the Manchester Triathlon Show. I had been training on the 1000s but for the race I used the 1500s and it worked wonders and now my hope for the next few years is to complete an ÖTILLÖ swimrun race, but not too sure where yet.”
Lisa, a triathlete from Bedford
“Since using these tablets I’ve been really impressed and wouldn’t be without them when swimming and racing during running and duathlon events.
My cramp used to strike up both shins, calves and inner thighs all at the same time, which was extremely painful, but now I have so much more confidence this won’t happen with these brilliant tablets - definitely recommend!”
I hope these anecdotes prove useful as you decide whether to give personalising your hydration strategy a try in a bid to get on top of your problems with cramp!